Third Time's A Charm

Third Time's a Charm

I’ve rebuilt my website four times in the last year. Sounds ridiculous, right? While I’m not thrilled about the amount of time the process took, it had a hidden positive - I thoroughly tested and compared three platforms based on the same project.


Wordpress was my college sweetheart, my first love. It showed me some of the amazing things that were possible when you had a healthy relationship with your website and your hosting provider.   

Alas, when we tried spicing things up with a new template in the backend, it was the beginning of the end for us. I had decided to test out a new builder template, an alternative to Divi, and discovered that if you weren’t on top of updates, styling would be absent and glitchy or some pages wouldn’t even load properly. Constant fighting over updates soured our relationship and then there was The Incident. There was a security breach and I was locked out.

I cried. I consulted Google. I wept some more. Finally, I got in through the backdoor of our hosting, packed, zipped up my backup files and shut that site down completely.

I was nervous, single again after years of a reliable partnership. And yet, I felt a glimmer of hope and excitement when my friend, a fellow designer and the talent behind my new branding, set me up with my rebound - Showit5.

On our first date, I was smitten. Where Wordpress had been reliable, organized and strong, Showit5 showed up ready to show me glamour and excitement. There were no rules, no codes to follow. Simply beautiful design, anything I could imagine.

But like many a rebound, it became apparent that while we had fun together, we weren’t the right match. I longed for a more reliable structure, a few more rules, and more automation. Showit5 was always there to show me how beautiful things could be but when I pressed for more, just wanted to keep things light and fun. We could have galleries of photos together but no deep, shared data. We agreed to part amicably.

I wondered when I would find my perfect match - stylish and flexible, yet practical and hardworking. Squarespace walked in, stealing my heart. It was exactly what I wanted, flexible yet strong, stylish while thoughtful. I could have the foundation on shared rules and code, yet the ability to adjust to new situations or ask new codes to be agreed on. It’s been a perfect match and I’m happy to say that we see eye-to-eye on our shared future - we’re going steady.

Sometimes I still see Wordpress; while it wasn’t the right fit for us, I occassionally set friends up with them.


Wordpress

Advantages

  • Best ability to manage large databases or memberships sites.

  • Easy to access and manage all of your media and assets across the site - it’s all stored in one library.

  • Many different ways to manage content, including portfolios, galleries, pages, posts and more.

  • Customize to your heart’s content - you can custom code pretty much anything if you have the know-how.

Disadvantages

  • Your experience can be very dependant on your choice of hosting and template. Choose wisely.

  • You need to have a solid plan and think about your security.

Showit5

Advantages

  • It’s the ultimate in What You See Is What You Get design, it’s a visual builder.

  • There are little/no rules.

Disadvantages

  • There are no rules.

  • I missed the consistency offered by a HTML/CSS based platform - I found it harder to maintain consistent styling and spacing.

  • You can host a blog or galleries but there is no way to easily host a portfolio, and definitely no way I could find to sort projects.

Squarespace

Advantages

  • Simple to manage.

  • Very customizable with style choices or custom CSS.

  • Ability to run multiple blogs, I use this to run both a traditional blog and manage my portfolio.

  • Flexible drag and drop builder for content.

  • Security and other administrative settings are easy to manage.

  • You can opt to have it hosted by Squarespace - you don’t need to worry about having an outside host.

Disadvantages

  • Navigation menus aren’t quite as customizable as Wordpress.

I think the most important thing to consider when you’re thinking about building a new website and choosing a platform is what you need to best serve your client and purpose.

While personally I opt to build primarily on Squarespace now (and I love it), there are some projects that would deeply benefit from a different platform. For example, clients planning to build a large membership program would be better served by the robust tools available for Wordpress, a wedding photographer might love Showit5, while someone planning to run a e-commerce business with minimal additional web content would probably prefer Shopify.